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Our experiences and understandings of wilderness are quite varied. For some, wilderness is a place of life threatening danger. For others, it is a place of trial and temptation. Some look at wilderness as wasted land that needs to come under the control, use, and ownership of human beings. Some see wilderness as a place of great beauty and spiritual inspiration. And some see wilderness as having value for its own sake as a place of biodiversity and flourishing ecosystems. This discourse will explore both historical and contemporary visions of wilderness with special attention given to the importance of preserving wilderness for sake of all life on earth.
About our visiting minister:
Rev. Dr. Mark Y. A. Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics, Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility, and Executive Director of the Leadership. Education, and Development (LEaD) Hub North United States for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) at Oklahoma City University where he has worked in both teaching and administration for 25 years. He is an ordained elder in the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church where he has served as Chair of the Board of Church and Society from 2015 to 2018.
Mark’s Ph.D. is from Boston University in the area of Social Ethics, and he has served Boston University School of Theology (BUSTH) as a member of its Dean’s Advisory Board and as the alumnus representative on BUSTH’s Green Team as part of the Green Seminary Initiative.
Mark has led and implemented a number of initiatives in coordination with the Division of Higher Education of the United Methodist Church including a Methodist Higher Education Global Ethics Initiative from 2008 to 2012, a United Methodist Higher Education Interfaith Initiative from 2015 to present, and a Global Methodist Higher Education Social and Ecological Responsibility Initiative from December 2016 to the present. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics.
In 2017, the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church selected Dr. Davies to serve as the convener of the writing team tasked with revising “The Natural World” section of the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church. This is the first time the Social Principles have undergone a thorough revision since their adoption by the denomination in 1972.
Mark is one of the inaugural members of the New Room Books Editorial Board. New Room Books is a reviewed academic monograph series that offers scholars from the Methodist tradition and their students a way to share their work.
Since 2015, Mark has served on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.”
Mark engages in advocacy and activism in the areas of peace, social justice, and ecological sustainability. Locally this is expressed through his work with the Human Community Network, which works to create non-violent systemic change for a just and flourishing human and ecological community through collaboration, education, innovation, and action. See www.humancommunitynetwork.org.
He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters who attend Oklahoma City University.